Some people go to gigs to enjoy the music, not too bothered about the “show” aspect of it. Others, usually those fans of huge pop acts, aren’t as bothered on how the artist sounds live; as long as they put on a good show. Somehow, Mr.Frank Turner can appease both these set of people.
With tonight’s concert at Mountford Hall (located in Liverpool Guild of Students) being Turner’s 1980th live show of his career, it is absolutely no surprise that his live show is absolutely nailed down to a T. This, however, isn’t a “show” filled with fancy lighting, pyros flying out left, right and centre or a, eh, meat dress. This is just Frank, with his Sleeping Souls, interacting with the audience. He’s talking to us as if he’s known us for years, even saying at one point “Are we becoming great friends, Liverpool?”. We are not his fans for tonight; we are his friends, even if he has more or less declared a great war between Sailsbury and Liverpool on who’s the rowdiest crowd!
It wasn’t just his crowd interaction that gets top marks, musically Frank was incredible as well. “I Knew Prufock Before He Was Famous” was an outstanding opener, you can tell why it’s become a staple opener for this tour, and the crowd response was out of this world. This very much set the tone for the rest of the evening; every single person in that hall danced and sang at the top of their lungs for 95% of the show, Frank was even keen to get the whole crowd involved; during “Glorious Days”, he more or less demanded everyone put their hands as high as possible and break into Jazz Hands once the magic choir key was pressed (“We can’t afford to tour with a choir for one song!”), and the crowd obeyed. The only bit of respite came during the experimental version of Tape Deck Heart closer, “Broken Piano”. If there’s any criticism I can give for this performance, is that unfortunately I felt this fell a bit flat, the crowd didn’t really seem to get into it and vocally it didn’t sound great, but hell, this is a man approaching 2000 shows, let him experiment! A career spanning setlist meant everyone was happy; fans of the old songs, fans of the new and even an “Ace of Spades” cover to really appease the metal heads in the crowd.
I touched briefly on the crowd getting involved earlier on in this review; believe you me that was only one of the many times. Before “If Ever I Say”, we were introduced to brother in law Paul, who was celebrating his 21st birthday again! Well not 21st, but that’s what Frank told us so we’ll go with it. After a rendition of “Happy Birthday”, Frank went on to explain that the crew all had a piece of cake; apart from the poor bloke at the sound desk. Never to leave someone out however, Paul was tasked with getting to the sound desk with a slice of cake. We, the crowd, helped him get on his merry way as he leaped upon us after the “1,2,3,4!” in “If Ever I Stay”. Amazingly, the cake got there in one piece.
There was an interesting element of the gig that was new to me. If you’re not aware of “The Wall of Death”, usually reserved for heavy metal gigs, the process is simple; the room is split in half leaving a big gap in the middle. When the nod is giving, everyone just runs into each other. Got that? Only Frank wasn't feeling a Wall of Death tonight during the closer to the main set “Photosynthesis”. After splitting the room, he announced instead of death, we’ll have a Wall of Hugs. Explaining that the world needs more love and we need to love each other more; he give the go and instead of running into each other and bashing the hell out of one another, we hugged complete strangers, which actually fitted in with the evening as a whole; I didn’t feel like just a number in the crowd; I felt like a part of one big family all showing our appreciation to the man on the stage.
After Frank came back for the encore; he saw a girl at the barrier; “Is your nose bleeding? Are you alright? Come up on stage here!” On further inspection, it seemed Amy was alright; that wasn’t the end of her however. Amy was giving the duty of a harmonica solo for “Dan’s Song”, met with a huge positive reaction from the crowd. For me, Recovery, which followed, was the highlight of the show; musically it was top notch and it got the best reaction of the crowd, which if I’m honest was nearly impossible to judge considering their energy held no bounds. In one final show of appreciation to the crowd, Frank Turner leapt on us with encore closer “Four Simple Words”, and safe to say we all wanted to dance with him.
This show was just a perfect cocktail of live music. A frontman who genuinely cares for his audience and puts on a fantastic show with quick wit and unbelievable music, a venue that suited this perfectly and a crowd of die hard fans who lapped up the appreciation. I honestly have no idea how this show could have gone better. Its the fact that Frank Turner, along with his Sleeping Souls, do this pretty much every single night that gets me. From reviews I read the energy levels and interaction stay the same; we just didn’t catch him on a good day. This is the sign of a man who just loves what he does, and loves the people who come to the shows to help him do this.
Frank Turner has his 2000th show coming up next month in Nottingham. After watching that, we can only hope for 2000 more.